Monday, June 24, 2024

Sarasota County allocates $45 million in first round of Hurricane Ian relief funding

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The first round of more than $200 million in Hurricane Ian relief funding is on its way to a batch of infrastructure projects across Sarasota County.

The Sarasota County Commission approved 12 applications for funding from the Resilient SRQ Infrastructure Program. The program, which boasts a pool of $201.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will distribute $45 million among approved infrastructure projects.

An additional $25 million will go toward construction on the South River Road Evacuation Corridor, which already received $15 million as part of Wednesday’s approvals. The remaining $161.5 million will be directed toward housing, economic revitalization, planning and administrative projects.

More: Sarasota County to get $201.5 million from federal gov as Hurricane Ian recovery continues

Every approved project received full funding, and the distribution totaled $44,994,000. The commission approved funding for the following projects:

  • North Port Boys and Girls Club ($4,000,000)
  • Salvation Army Social Services Facility ($3,010,000)
  • Water Control Structure 121 reconstruction in North Port ($2,042,000)
  • Water Control Structure 130 reconstruction in North Port ($2,042,000)
  • Myakkahatchee Creek Bridge reconstruction in North Port ($10,314,000)
  • Bridge at North Port Boulevard and Cocoplum reconstruction in North Port ($106,000)
  • Sarasota Bay Watershed flood and water quality improvements ($1,200,000)
  • South River Road widening from U.S. 41 to Winchester Boulevard ($15,000,000)
  • Rehabilitation and storm hardening of Manasota Key Bascule Bridge ($2,980,000)
  • Englewood coastal stormwater improvements ($3,135,000)
  • Cartlon Water Treatment Plant: Switchgear improvements and generator ($745,000)
  • Carlton Water Treatment Plant: Infrastructure retrofit for high-service pumps ($420,000)

The commission mobilized The Sarasota County Community Block Grant for Disaster Recovery, known as Resilient SRQ last May in response to Hurricane Ian damages — which, per a Resilient SRQ presentation, created more than $792 million in unmet needs as the third-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. The Department of Housing approved the use of the funds in November, and Resilient SRQ opened applications this year.

Resilient SRQ received 41 infrastructure submissions — nine nonprofits and 32 public entities —between Feb. 5 and March 18, which totaled $174 million in requested funding. Each project received a score out of 100 based on a project’s financial plan, leverage of funding, readiness, impact and pre-funding assessment

More: More than $187 million in government and nonprofit requests made for Resilient SRQ grants

Most of the approved projects are concentrated in south Sarasota County, which saw more severe damage from Hurricane Ian. Commissioner Neil Rainford said that while each of the submissions had merit, the commission picked projects that addressed the most immediate need.

“Obviously, South County got whacked in a major way,” Rainford said. “If you got left off this list, it’s not because the project’s not warranted.”

Commissioners agreed on projects to fund, but a few contenders were left off the list. A Fruitville Road complete street project was considered but tabled in favor of more pressing projects, as was a proposal to relocate a fire station in Venice.

Despite the consensus, Commissioner Mark Smith said it was still a struggle to take some compelling projects off the table.

“It’s like which one of your children you want to throw overboard,” Smith said. “You start chopping off their limbs. Is that a good idea?”

More: Sarasota County to allocate $40 million toward affordable housing

Grant guidelines require 70% of the total funding to benefit low to moderate-income households, which are defined as those making 80% of the area median income. The program must also meet a HUD national objective or addressing urgent needs and eliminating slum or blight, tie back to Hurricane Ian relief and be used in Sarasota County within six years.

Commissioner Ron Cutsinger, who represents North Port and Englewood as the District 5 commissioner, said he was encouraged by the chosen projects and how quickly the commission reached a consensus.

“This is a great list,” Cutsinger said. “There’s future work to be done and we may be moving some money in the future and who knows how this will all turn out, but this is a great beginning.”

Applications for a $40 million multifamily affordable housing grant opened March 19 and closed May 1. Resilient SRQ’s $15 million Workforce Development and Training grant will accept applications until June 26.

Contact Herald-Tribune Growth and Development Reporter Heather Bushman at hbushman@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @hmb_1013

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